Local Commentary

Editorial: James Webb For Senator

Democratic contender James Webb is on the verge of one of the great political upsets in the history of Virginia. As we move to the election on Tuesday, polls continue to show him with a thin but perceptible lead over incumbent U.S. Senator George Allen in a race that has attracted a huge amount of national attention. Former military hero and Secretary of the Navy under a Republican administration, James Webb lifted himself out of comfortable obscurity earlier this year to run his first ever campaign for public office.

Since an upset victory in the Democratic primary last June, he has captured the imagination of not only Virginians, but grassroots Americans everywhere. In him, they see a leader with tested, personal qualities of virtue and valor capable of standing against the madness that 12 years of GOP domination of Washington, since that party took Congress in 1994, has wreaked. We wholeheartedly urge the election of Mr. Webb next Tuesday.

Mr. Webb has turned out to be everything, and more, that his initially-tiny but highly dedicated core of supporters, most primarily motivated by their opposition to the debacle in Iraq, hoped for when he began his race last spring. He started out last February without a penny in his campaign chest. But he built his campaign through the strength of his character, the passion of those who backed him and a strident opposition to Iraq and other Bush programs. By the time of the hotly-contested Democratic primary in June, the News-Press was proud to be one of two newspapers in Virginia to endorse him for victory.

Our editorial backing him June 8 said, “In this anticipated national full court press (against Bush and Iraq-ed.) Virginia may offer up a champion next Tuesday in the statewide Democratic primary, if James Webb can emerge victorious.” It added, Webb “is just the kind of person who can inflict the maximum damage on GOP incumbent and presidential hopeful Sen. George Allen in November.

Moreover, with his credentials, he can be a powerful symbol, nationally, representing the broad-based, bi-partisan contempt now held by a wide majority of the American people for President Bush and the GOP’s responsibilities for the amazingly disastrous Iraq mess.” We enthusiastically second all those words again, this time on the eve of Tuesday’s general election.

Nationwide, the mid-term elections Tuesday must be, despite all smoke screens to the contrary, a referendum on President Bush and, in particular, the Iraq fiasco. A very powerful, popularly-based message needs to be delivered by voting against every Republican, everywhere, and against the Republican-inspired so-called “marriage amendment.”

Victories for Democrats everywhere possible, from our municipal treasurer election to the U.S. Senate and everywhere in between must be fervently sought to deliver the kind of “vote of no-confidence” against Bush and his Iraq policy. It is the only tool the American electorate has, right now, to compel a significant change of course.